Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesdays from the Teacher- Writing and Your Child

Ms. B. is a 7th grade Language Arts teacher in the Midwest. She has been teaching for 15 years, having taught Special Education for 4 years and Language Arts for 11 years. Ms. B. has a degree in Special Education, Reading and her Masters in Education. In her free time she enjoys gardening, baking bread, being a grandparent and eating fine, imported dark chocolate. 

(For those of you who need more support and encouragement as you strive to teach your children to be patient, know that the benefits of patience extend beyond the home.)

One of the most daunting challenges to teaching 7th graders how to write is that writing takes time. Most of my students want to write something in less than 15 minutes and then have me give whatever they have written a good score. Few students graciously accept comments as opportunities to improve their skills; most act as if I have personally insulted them. I compliment the student when he or she writes well, and I critique the student when he or she has room for improvement. My intention is not to be mean but rather to help my students learn. It is extremely difficult to convince them that good writing takes time and practice—just like any sport or fine arts activity.

How can you help your child learn to be a better writer? As a parent or primary caregiver, you have to carve out some time for the two of you to write together—every day. It can be as little as 15 minutes per day, and you can write about whatever your child is interested in. You can journal, write poetry, letters to grandparents, and/or do research on any topic of interest. I did some research and found the following sites that will inspire writing:

Journal ideas - http://www.canteach.ca/elementary/prompts.html
Writing prompts - http://abceach.com/directory/basics/writing/

It is critical to write every day to establish the importance and habit of writing. You both will need to review your daily schedules and decide what can go. We are creating a culture of busy-ness, often taking pride in sharing our ridiculous schedules of extra-curricular activities. One of your first writing activities could even be reviewing your schedules to determine what is important and what could/should go. Television and computer time are also prime areas to consider reducing.

Learning to write well will take time. However, if you dedicate a mere 15 minutes a day to writing with your child, you will see improvement in their ability to write- and their reading comprehension. These are both important skills that will aide in your child's future academic success.


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